16 June 2017
The online world can be an awful place, especially for women. Abuse and bile are common and many women have been scared away from the digital space. It’s a problem that needs tackling, but how?
Earlier this year, leading company director Dr Kirstin Ferguson decided to try to change the tone of the online conversation from the denigration to the celebration of women.
A graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, a founder of Orbitas Group, a member of Chief Executive Women (CEW), an ABC board director and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Ferguson launched a project called #CelebratingWomen that aims to do just that – celebrate women, online.
“I made a public commitment to share the profiles of two women every single day in 2017,” she tells The Deal. The result has blown her away.
The program involves profiling women on Facebook and Twitter, and sharing their stories and their successes with an ever-widening audience.
“It began as an idea to try to encourage more celebration,” Ferguson says. “I was seeing women I respect and admire, women just doing their jobs and having an opinion, being denigrated. My idea was to make noise in a positive way. I believe every woman is a role model to someone else.”
But the greatest surprise has been the effect on her personally. “The process of celebrating two women every single day, of having strangers trust me with their stories and allowing me to share with the world who they hope to inspire, has been incredibly rewarding,” she says. “I love waking up each day and celebrating two new women, before even breakfast! And then to receive feedback from so many strangers from around the world who tell me how it’s inspiring them and that it has made a difference.”
The sheer diversity of the women Ferguson has been able to celebrate is something to behold: they are from the left and the right, rich, poor, working full-on or part-time in myriad roles in the public or private sector.
“When you read the 300 profiles so far, every single woman has achieved, has overcome, has persisted,” she says. “Every woman has a story to tell, regardless of what they may do in their home or at work, that can help other women.”
The project may prove to be the first step in a longer campaign to truly embrace women who venture online.
In the meantime, #CelebratingWomen is still gathering steam on Facebook and Twitter and it’s not too late to lean in and nominate yourself, or a woman you admire.